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Times of India
21 July 2010
By Sharad Vyas
Mumbai, India

The BMC will start evening Out Patient Departments (OPDs) at public hospitals to tackle the growing number of malaria cases in the city. The decision was taken on Tuesday after it was found that several deaths last year were caused because patients went to “fringe operators” instead of full–fledged hospitals.

No government hospital in the city runs its OPDs beyond 2 pm, sometimes upto 4 pm, on working days. The BMC will ask its hospitals to hold OPDs from 9 am to 4 pm and again from 5 pm to 7 pm.

According to a BMC survey, nearly 50% of the 198 people who succumbed to the diseas e last year had gone to ‘fringe operators’–private clinics and practitioners. “These fringe operators, including nearly 4,000 private practitioners, have an abysmal awareness of malaria. In several cases, there was a delay in detection,” said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar.

BMC health officials hope that the move will also save patients a lot of money. According to BMC data, of those who died of malaria last year, 25% did not have sufficient financial support.

The BMC health system came under heavy criticism from corporators on Tuesday for failing to curb the rise of malaria. They alleged the administration has not done enough to control its spread, even as the disease assumes ‘epidemic proportions’.

The BMC maintained it is doing its best but other stakeholders have failed to adhere to anti–malaria treatment. “Of the 2,438 underconstruction sites in city, only 37 have undertaken vector control activity. This has to change,” said Mhaiskar.

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